County Creates Ad-Hoc Committee To Chase Amazon Deal

At its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 12, the county finance committee authorized the Economic Development Advisory Commission to create an ad hoc committee to help the county’s economic development department chase down a deal with the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon.

“I just spent, over the August recess, quite a bit of time in downtown Seattle,” said Supervisor Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). “…The effect Amazon has in downtown Seattle is extraordinary. They consume about 40 percent of the office space in the downtown.”

Amazon has issued a request for proposals for a new headquarters, “HQ2,” to parallel its headquarters in Seattle, WA, where it employs more than 40,000 people. It has over 8 million square feet across 33 buildings, 24 restaurants and cafés, and pays $25.7 billion to its employees.

Its plans for a second headquarters include up to 8 million square feet of space, over $5 billion in capital investment, and as many as 50,000 full-time employees earning an average of over $100,000 a year.

Buona advised the advisory commission to get “all the right sectors involved.”

“It shouldn’t just be the tech industry,” Buona said. “You’re going to need people who understand commercial real estate, people who understand the land in the county, the greenspace especially. That all needs to be present on this committee.”

Advisory commission Chairwoman Sharon Virts said the ad hoc committee will open to people not on the commission.

“It’s not just EDAC members who can serve on an ad hoc [committee,]” Virts said. “We open it up to the community, so we’ll be looking throughout the community to assist the Department of Economic Development.”

Department of Economic Development Director Buddy Rizer said Amazon’s search for a new headquarters is “the biggest real estate deal of the decade.” And he said Loudoun is in the running.

“We expect it to be a very competitive process, but we will be very aggressive in going after this,” Rizer said. “I truly believe that we are a contender in this.”

He has said Loudoun is “the perfect place” for HQ2. Amazon is seeking a site with access to a major city, an international airport, major highways, public transit, and the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent. Loudoun boasts three Metrorail stops under construction, Dulles International Airport, and a highly-educated population.

“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in a statement. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”

Bids for the new offices are due by Oct. 19, and the company said it expected to announce its choice next year.

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